How do I increase profits for my restaurant/catering business during a down economy?
- 5 Things to do with Your Small Business to Survive the Recession: networksolutions.com
- How to Survive a Recession: morebusiness.com
- Five Ways Your Business Can Survive a Recession: mainstreet.com
Marketing plan: Economic recessions take their toll on many restaurants and other types of businesses. Whether changes in your marketing plans can help improve your business during the current economic recession is something you will have to analyze and evaluate. If catering, for example, is a larger sales opportunity than consumer sales, then you may need to focus more on business-to-business marketing than marketing to consumers. However, price promotions, menu mix, effective on-site signage, and other marketing methods can be effective for carry-out restaurants to attract retail consumer traffic. Business websites and other Internet marketing are common tools for restaurants; however, they typically do not drive significant customer traffic, particularly in the short term.
- What Is B2B: wisegeek.com
- B2B Sales Leads Checklist: sales-lead-experts.com
- B2B Marketing and Sales Lead Generation: sales-lead-experts.com
- The Fundamentals of B2B Sales & Marketing: amazon.com
Commercial lists: Letters of Introduction, brochures, promotional coupons, flyers, and other advertising (print and media) can be used to reach target customers. In addition to direct mail services like Valpak, various list services are available to select specific target groups by gender, location, income, and other criteria. A specific service is available through our website in the Sales section under Tools & Resources then Select Services. Also, you can use an Internet search engine to locate commercial lists. The following are examples:
Dun and Bradstreet is another source of list services:
- North American Industry Classification System: census.gov
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration: osha.gov
Competitive review: Review how other caterers in your area market their services.
Free publicity: Restaurateurs should seek out free press and advertising regarding themselves and the restaurant (menu, theme, etc) or a grand re-opening event. Publicity is one of the best ways to reach the market, and it is inexpensive. There are often opportunities for free publicity or public relations in local markets by providing public interest stories to local newspapers, TV and radio stations that lead back to your product or service. Being a long-term business owner in the area, providing a niche or unique service, being recognized as business of the month and other factors can qualify you for free publicity in your market. Companies should certainly take advantage of press releases and other media public relations that they can obtain for free, by bartering or on an economical basis. One specific suggestion would be to find publications and groups in your area that present food awards. Determine what is involved to be in the running and go after the award. To have a group of people vote that your restaurant is the best in a category is very valuable and inexpensive—if not free. This type of endorsement can be terrific. You can use it in your advertising and it will be listed by the publication(s) that gave the award. You can review examples of publicity information and suggestions at the following websites:
Industry information: You can locate restaurant marketing suggestions, tools, and industry information with an Internet search. The following are a few example websites:
On-site signage: A good location is often the most important factor for a restaurant’s success. A basic marketing tool is effective on-site signs, banners, and/or window treatments to attract passing consumers’ attention. Also, you can market your catering services with exterior signage and in-store marketing materials.
Flyers: Businesses often allow local restaurants to leave flyers and promotional coupons for distribution to employees.
Pickup ordering: Phone ordering is often an effective service for urban locations.
Online marketing: Business websites are common today to market business products and services. You can make effective use of a business website with search engines, banners, keywords, blogs, or other website marketing tools. Also, social media websites and blogs are very popular at the moment and some may be able to reach target customers (individuals or businesses) and create interest in certain business products or services. These methods are newer, there is considerable competition, and business networking and marketing results will vary by situation based on various factors. We do not have any quantitative results on the business marketing success rates of the many networking websites. Basically, you would have to research and then test this type of advertising in order to determine if it reaches your target audience or otherwise can be effective for your business. Business and social networking sites generally have explanatory information for business advertisers on their websites. You can research the top business and social networking websites through websites like the following:
- Facebook Advertising: facebook.com
- About Twitter: twitter.com
- LinkedIn Advertising: linkedin.com
- 50 Social Sites that Every Business Needs a Presence On: insidecrm.com
Facebook Fan pages:
- Tips to Get People to Join Your Facebook Fan Page: smallbiztrends.com
- How to Use Facebook For Business: hubspot.com
Gift certificates: Selling gift certificates can generate new trial customers.
Frequency cards: Customer loyalty is always important and many restaurants use a form of frequency card that rewards customers after X number visits or a dollar amount purchased.
Print ads in Local Yellow Pages, newspapers and food/dining publications: Local hotels generally have local food and entertainment brochures in the rooms and/or in the lobby for travelers. Many also have a special advertising channel on their TVs for local businesses and attractions.
Menu mix: New menu items and menu variety can help reach a larger target audience and increase frequency among current restaurant customers.
Marketing Plan: Marketing methods are influenced by the industry, local competition, target customers, available capital, customer base, and other factors. Also, trial and experimentation is usually required to determine the most effective promotional methods for a particular market. Businesses normally determine by experience which marketing options provide the greatest response with the lowest cost. Business owners test, adjust and measure their marketing efforts to make sure they are allocating their marketing dollars cost-effectively in reaching their potential customers. You typically need to apply this type of approach to any business.
A marketing budget will be a balance between what print, direct mail, media, and other forms of advertising cost in your market and what you can afford. Also, marketing dollars are most cost effective when they reach certain target audiences, rather than a general distribution. There is no silver bullet in marketing. Whether an Internet website, print, referrals, or other form of advertising, a business must break through the clutter of many other advertisers to attract the customers’ attention.
It is often advisable for business owners to have a written business plan that includes a marketing plan. A marketing plan can help you evaluate marketing options, formulate a plan (monthly, seasonal, etc), and develop a budget.